London Assembly report on city's cycling plans

By Richard Peace | Friday, November 23, 2012 11.52am

The recently published London Assembly Transport Committee report, Gearing Up, has made recommendations to London mayor Boris Johnson, Transport for London and the Government concerning cycling in the UK capital. 

Subtitled An Investigation into Safer Cycling in London, the report addresses barriers facing cyclists and would-be cyclists in the city, and looks critically at current plans to increase uptake for the mode of transport. Here's a quick guide to the findings:

Barriers to cycling

1. Concern about cycle safety is far and away the most important barrier preventing more cycling. Analysis shows that, despite improvements in the cycle casualty rate between 2001 and 2006, the numbers worsened between 2007 and 2010. In other countries where cycling has grown, related casualties have dropped. Based on London’s data, the report doubts whether the 'safety in numbers' effect is evident in the capital.

2. Accordingly, lack of safe infrastructure is extremely important in encouraging the take-up of cycling.

3. The mayor's strategy relies on targeting groups he sees as most likely to take up cycling, but the report disputes this approach, stating, "Our evidence shows that cycling is a transport choice for people from all backgrounds in places such as the Netherlands and Copenhagen … If Transport for London [TfL] does not invest greater efforts in encouraging harder-to-reach groups to cycle, ambitious targets for cycling in London are unlikely to be met."

4. It is unclear who has responsibility for driving the mayor’s vision for a 'cyclised' London, especially on the Transport for London board.

5. Cycle funding is skewed towards the Cycle Hire scheme and away from safe cycle lanes and investment in the outer boroughs.

Key recommendations

1. TfL must give increased priority to cycling spending in their new business plan. Their spending on cycling is approximately £10 per capita, which is half the amount spent on cycling across the Netherlands and Copenhagen. The mayor should double funding for cycling in 2013/14, and to use the TfL business plan to set out the investment London will need to match cycling levels in leading cycling cities.

2. There should be more segregated cycle space in London; priority is currently wrongly given to motorised traffic. Specifically, now a third of the way through the Cycle Superhighways project, TfL should focus their efforts and resources on applying lessons learned to the eight remaining routes and retrofitting the four existing Cycle Superhighways.

3. The current junction review should prioritise the removal of gyratories and introduce many more 20mph areas. It should be fully resourced and itemised and build high-quality cycle infrastructure at the junctions in question.

4. Where there is existing provision for the mayor and TfL to use innovative road design and technological solutions to improve cycle safety, they should do so. The Department for Transport (DfT) should introduce legislative changes to traffic regulations to enable TfL to use new cycle safety solutions. One well-known continental example is the 'green wave' bike light sequence, meaning no waiting at red lights once a cyclist is riding 'in phase' with the lights. 

5. Funding in the outer boroughs should be increased. 

6. The mayor’s target to increase cycling to five percent by 2026 is unambitious; he should bring forward his current target to 2020, and aim for 10 percent cycling mode share by 2026.

7. Secure agreement from the five London boroughs not yet registered for the Freight Operators Recognition Scheme to sign up to the scheme by February 2013.

8. TfL should develop a plan to ensure all children have the opportunity to undertake cycle training at school.

9. The mayor should appoint a cycling commissioner to champion the mode of transport.

Related links

10. TfL should press the Metropolitan police to enforce traffic law that cyclists feel threatened by – speeding, for example.

Mayor Johnson is due to publish his 'cycling vision'later this month and it will be interesting to see whether he pledges to adopt any of the London Assembly recommendations. 

Looking further into the future, the report notes the new "proposed 'super corridor' to connect Cycle Superhighways in Central London will be a litmus test for his commitment to incorporate Dutch design principles in London’s cycling infrastructure".  

Read the full report here.

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